As I glanced out my kitchen window into my backyard, I couldn’t help but notice the roughed-up ground beneath the swings on our swing set. A piece of yard that used to house beautiful green grass has since been beaten by tiny feet into nothing more than a dirt patch.
And those dirt patches, they have been created — earned — during the summer months. To a blind eye, it may seem like our yard has been worn out. Is in bad shape. But in my eyes, I see every kick and every giggle that shaped those patches.
Above those dirt patches sits our worn out swing set, an aged A-shaped wood structure that we bought from friends for barely nothing. Yet, its mature frame has held strong while little ones have flown through the air with gleeful, summer smiles.
And as August creeps on by, my heart breaks just a little about the fact this season will soon come to an end. It always seems to go so fast. Summer seems to never hang on to her grip.
Soon, it will be too cold to fill up the collapsible pool and place the slide in it for some at-home fun. And it won’t be long until public pools are closing and we lose the option of meeting friends and family to swim off the energy of the little ones.
In no time at all, ice cream places will close up shop for the season, eliminating the request for goodies whenever we pass them. The Popsicle-stained mouth will fade with the fall breeze.
Not long from now, catching lightning bugs until dark will no longer mean being out until almost 10 p.m. as daylight will succumb to the early darkness. But, before that, my kids will wonder why they need to come in for a bath when the sun is still hanging high and will question how they can fall asleep with light shining through the blinds.
And, inevitably, our garage will begin to transform as the bikes are used less and as strollers, baby ride-on toys and training wheels will become a thing of the past.
The sidewalk chalk has already been broken into pieces or melted away from being left out in the rain. The bubbles that weren’t blown have been knocked over and spilled and the empty containers will be thrown away. Hula-hoops have been deformed, balls have lost their air and battery-powered rides have long since been deprived of their charge.
Sunscreen and bug spray will become foreign scents and there will no longer be a need to help water the flowers and garden nightly. Patio furniture will be packed up and put away and it will be just a blank space where many meals, picnics and cookouts were shared together as a family.
Summer is fading away. All the signs are present, including the echoing of the locusts in the distance. The call of the fall. And before I can look ahead at the challenges and opportunities of the upcoming months, I can’t help but look back at the gone-too-fast season and feel a multitude of sadness.
You see, these summers are short and limited, and as each one passes I know that it is one less that I will have to spend with my babies. Next year, I may not be telling Maylie how to spell words with sidewalk chalk or running alongside the bike holding on the back of the seat to keep a wobbly child from falling off with no training wheels. Soon, lightning bugs will lose their attraction and feeling sand beneath my feet on the entire trek from the door to the bathroom will become a thing of the past.
So, I just sit here and stare at those dirt patches in my yard, each individually crafted by the feet of my children. Sure, those patches may be soon covered up — first, with freshly fallen leaves and then with the whiteness of the snow. But still, they will remain there — underneath — much like my memories of our amazing summers together.
Maybe our backyard looks a little trampled on. What once was a gorgeous, green lawn is now a spotted-up mixture of grass and dirt. But what I see when I look at it is more beautiful than any well-groomed yard. It is memories, laughter, giggles, learning and sweet summer days drifting off into satisfying summer nights.
And maybe one day grass will again grow into those patches in the yard. Heck, we may even plant it. But I am certain that nothing will ever grow over the beautiful dirt patches of summer memories etched deep in my heart.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.